SEVERN Stars head coach Sam Bird called for her side to be more confident as they lost 62-49 in a physical encounter against Manchester Thunder.

Stars started the Vitality Netball Superleague game at the University of Worcester Arena brightly, taking an early lead and competed throughout the first two quarters.

But in a frustrating third quarter a dominant performance from Thunder took the game away from Stars, creating a lead which the team was unable to recover from.

“We started well and competed well. It was a close first quarter. We are looking for the girls to be more confident in delivering the ball through the mid-court,” said Bird.

“There were some nice connections but Thunder are a strong team. They started to ask us questions and we lost confidence in delivering the ball.

"We were able to respond and win the final quarter so there are positives we can take from the game.”

Stars started the first quarter strongly with defensive duo Sam Cook and Jodi-Ann Ward preventing two early Thunder goals.

Stars goal shooter Georgia Rowe took advantage at the other end giving the home side an early 2-0 lead.

Despite a strong defensive performance a string of mistakes allowed Thunder back into the game.

Former Stars player Eleanor Cardwell levelled the scores midway through the quarter, making it 7-7.

However, Stars goal attack Maryka Holtzhausen ensured they finished the quarter only one goal behind Thunder at 13-12 to the away side.

Stars regained the lead briefly after a flying start to the second quarter following two quick-fire goals from Rowe.

However, multiple defensive turnovers from Thunder’s defenders Emma Dovey and Amy Carter allowed them to regain control of the game.

Wing attack Iona Darroch found Rowe with a beautiful feed in the circle as Stars looked to stem the flow.

This was reinforced by a flying intercept from wing defence Ella Powell-Davies, allowing Stars the opportunity to level the scores before Holtzhausen gave Stars a 21-20 lead.

Thunder responded with changes in attack with Joyce Mvula on at goal shooter and they sprinted to a 27-21 lead.

Stars responded by bringing on Halimat Adio at goal keeper but despite a brighter end to the quarter found themselves behind 29-22 at the half-time interval.

Thunder inflicted major damage in the third quarter. Their defenders put on an impressive defensive performance as Stars players struggled to get the ball through the mid-court.

Stars made changes in attack to try to stem the flow and reduce the goal deficit with Paige Reed on at goal attack and Holtzhausen moving to wing attack.

Powell-Davies produced a fantastic defensive stop, allowing Stars to transition up court.

But Thunder responded by applying pressure in attack with shooters Cardwell and Mvula clinical under the post as they stormed to a 50-33 lead.

Stars were revitalised after Lucy Harris re-entered the court at centre and scored three quick-fire goals as they tried to mount a final-quarter comeback.

Harris and Holtzhausen continued to link up well as Stars controlled the final quarter with the latter finding Rowe in the circle with a fine pass to make the score 53-41.

Stars continued to battle but despite a strong last quarter the goal deficit inflicted in the third quarter was all too much to recover from and Thunder took the victory 62-49.

Stars next face Surrey Storm at the University of Gloucester Arena on Saturday.

They return to the University of Worcester Arena to play Saracens Mavericks on March 4.